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Oracle's 3Q Profit Rises 35 Percent

Oracle Corp.'s fiscal third quarter profit climbed 35 percent, lifted by strong software sales that exceeded management's projections. The Redwood Shores-based business software maker said Tuesday that it earned $1.03 billion, or 20 cents per share, for the three months ended in February. That compared with net income of $765 million, or 14 cents per share, at the same time last year.

If not for certain expenses unrelated to its ongoing operations, Oracle said it would have earned 25 cents per share. That was 2 cents above the average estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Revenue for the period totaled $4.41 billion, a 27 percent increase from $3.47 billion last year.

In a measure particularly important to investors, Oracle's sales of new software licenses also rose by 27 percent to $1.39 billion. That was better than the 16 to 22 percent increase that management forecast three months ago.

"We had aggressive guidance and exceeded on every metric," Safra Catz, Oracle's chief financial officer, said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters.

Oracle shares gained 37 cents to close at $17.55 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, then added another 81 cents, or 4.6 percent, in extended trading.

The performance provided further validation for a two-year shopping spree in which Oracle has spent more than $20 billion on acquisitions designed to boost its profits by at least 20 percent annually and increase its sales of business software applications _ the computer coding that automates a wide range of administrative tasks.

The company's earnings growth has now exceeded that target in five consecutive quarters.

Oracle expects to complete its latest deal, a $3.3 billion purchase of Hyperion Solutions Corp., by the end of next month.

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